This baked mac and cheese with bacon solidifies my reign as the queen of side dishes – but only sides. For some reason I can rock the sides, but seem to fall a little flat on main dishes (or maybe it’s just a ploy to get my husband to cook, shhhhh… don’t tell him).
The inspiration to make these little individual sized portions of baked mac and cheese with bacon in ramekins was two-fold. The first was as a reminder of a great date-day Todd and I had right before the holidays. Carter was at a friend’s house for the afternoon, so we went to one of our favorite places in Des Moines, the Cheese Shop. We normally just have a cheese plate and some wine or beer, but we were there around lunch time, so I decided to try their mac and cheese which I had heard was amazing. That’s an understatement, easily the best mac and cheese EVAH! Here’s a picture I posted on Instagram that day.
The other reason is that I had recently bought some new ramekins in order to make molten chocolate lava cakes for Todd’s birthday. I figured I should get some additional use out of them.
I’ve made homemade mac and cheese before with so-so results. This time, it was showstopping! I started with a recipe from The Chew and made some modifications, different cheese and of course the bacon, because everything is better with bacon!
Ingredients: (makes 8 servings)
- 4 cups cooked elbow macaroni
- 5 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 6 oz. cheddar cheese
- 10 oz. parmigiano/asiago shredded cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (regular breadcrumbs would work too, I just prefer Panko)
First I started off by cooking my macaroni noodles and my bacon. (I only made a half batch, so that’s why there doesn’t look like there’s much bacon there). I strained the noodles and set them aside while I I cut my bacon up a little more and made the cheese sauce.
Then I made my cheese sauce by combining all of the remainder of ingredients, besides the grated parmesan cheese and the panko, in a medium sauce pan on medium.
Once the mixture was completely melted and smooth, I stirred in my macaroni noodles and bacon until well combined.
Finally I spooned the cheesy goodness into ramekins and topped with the Panko and grated Parmesan cheese mixture.
Then they went into a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes until the tops were a little golden brown. They probably could have used a few minutes under the broiler to make them more brown and bubbly, but I was impatient!
What I really liked about this baked mac and cheese with bacon (aside from them being adorable individual servings), was it wasn’t overly “saucy”. The flavor was great, bringing out the mix of cheeses, but it wasn’t overly rich. It was the perfect ratio for my taste between the cheese and pasta (and bacon, don’t forget the bacon!), and the texture was perfect with the crunchy topping and baked-on sides. I’ll definitely be making this again!